With sharing music so easy nowadays, copyright lawsuits are becoming more and more common in the music industry. I was definitely one of those people who used Kazaa and Limewire, but I stopped after hearing about people (continuously) getting fined thousands of dollars for music that was worth less than half of the fines. And I understand where the music industry is coming from. People need to get paid, and not just musicians and CEO's of record companies. I'd bet that they would actually be some of the last to feel the cut from illegal downloading. Now, social media sites like YouTube are getting into trouble for allowing their users to use copyrighted music; it's the new battle in the music industry. The big case I'm talking about is the one between YouTube and Warner Music Group.
Warner Music Group has now been removing all of their musical content from YouTube. While this might be protecting their copyrighted material, it is alienating their consumers. YouTube is popular because you have the ability to find anything and everything on it. Taking content off because people are not paying for it, alienates everyone. And there's proof of this. YouTube users have been creating angry videos in response to Warner Music Group's decision to take down content containing their music. This is similar to the airline situation with Dave Carroll that I talked about in a previous post. The airline wronged him and he fought back using social media, specifically YouTube. This is creating a LOT of bad publicity for Warner Music Group. I bet their PR director is stressed.
The answer to these kinds of problems is Creative Commons. This organization provides free licenses to creators of material that allows these owners to choose what others can and cannot do with their original work. It allows people to make more creative works than they would under normal copyright laws. As a music fan (and a fan of music blogs), I think this is great. I love having music available to listen to all the time and I love with artists collaborate with one another or when some music enthusiast decides to make a remix or mash-up. It inspires creativity and, personally, I think it is great PR for a musician or band. I know this free PR is not needed for bigger, well-known bands, but for independent, lesser-known bands, it can get their names out there and make them big.
So what does this mean for PR? I think it means that record companies are going to have to seriously reconsider the regulations they put on their music. It should be the responsibility of the content owners (i.e. the musicians, I'm assuming) to decide the regulations and Creative Commons is the best way to do that. Record companies should look at the reaction to Warner Music Group and learn that strict regulations are not the best way to go even if they are the most protective of original content. Warner Music Group will need to rethink its policies and respond carefully to those angry videos protesting it.